So I've been researching canning methods.

Source: unknown. Please let me know if you know who created it.

I believe it started a couple of years ago, when The Virus Which Must Not Be Named was first being talked about. I thought about doing some canning and preserving, and wondered if it's possible to can meat. And I decided it must be, because you can buy things like chicken and tuna and Spam in a can, and it's perfectly fine to eat. So I think I did a Google search or two and found out about pressure canning.

And then I looked up pressure canners in Australia, and instantly regretted it. Ouch. That's a huge expense for someone who doesn't even know if they want to do it! I wonder if I could borrow one from a friend. Who do I know who might have a pressure canner? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

So I gave up on that idea for a while. And every now and then, I'd think about it again. Because you never know when the power will go out for an extended period of time and freezers will fail. I didn't want to have to cook up a bunch of meat all at once to make sure it didn't spoil, and hope we could get through it before we had to throw it out.

A couple of weeks ago, in Dr. Berry's Patreon group, he posted a link to a YouTube video about canning meat. I think that video mostly talked about doing it in a pressure canner (of course), but in the video they talked about another video where you DON'T need a pressure canner to do it (say, if the power goes out, and you have to cook up a bunch of meat quickly so it doesn't spoil). So instead of watching the original video, I watched that one. And I found one about Amish canning methods, which is water bath for everything, even meat.

So yeah, you could say I question the official guidelines for pressure canning non-acidic foods. I'm not saying you shouldn't, I'm just thinking...I need more information.

I did some research today, and found out a few things, and came up with more questions. First, what I know or found out recently.

1. The Amish use water bath for everything.
2. Before 1980, everyone used water bath for everything.
3. Botulism is fatal in 5-10% of cases.
4. Honey isn't recommended for infants under 12 months because of the risk of botulism. After 12 months, they develop resistance to it.
5. I asked my mom if anyone she knew ever canned meat, and she said my grandma canned chicken once when she was a kid.
6. Botulism spores are not killed by boiling water. You need to get it to 250F (about 120C) to kill it.
7. You have to have just the right conditions for botulism to be there in the first place, and then reproduce, so it's actually pretty rare.
8. Botulinum toxin is found in soil, and it's most common for intravenous drug users to become sick from it.
9. Botulinum toxin needs an anaerobic environment (no oxygen) and warm conditions to grow.
10. A lot of places in the world, water bath canning is the only method they have.

Now the questions.

1. Regarding #4 above, if infants develop a resistance to botulism by 12 months (or thereabouts, obviously everyone is different, it could be earlier or later), wouldn't they also be resistant to it in canned food?
2. Was water bath canning always as 'dangerous' as the authorities tell us it is now? Or did people just have better immune systems to handle it? How many of us have healthy immune systems now?
3. Regarding #8 above, if it's found in soil, then wouldn't cleaning your food really well before canning mitigate the risk somewhat?
4. Regarding #3 and #7 above, if it's so rare, and only 5-10% die from it, is it really worth all the fuss making sure people buy expensive pressure canners to can their non-acidic foods?
5. Couldn't you just add some acid to food to make it more acidic?
6. Is our industrial food production part of the problem? Does this make botulism more prevalent, using modern pesticides, herbicides, and factory farming procedures, and thus necessitate pressure canning of certain foods that are grown/raised this way? Would fully organic fruit & vegetables, and pasture raised meat be less prone to these problems?

It seems to me that if you keep all the food really clean, cook it hot enough and long enough, make sure your jars are clean and undamaged, make sure your lids are clean and seal properly, and do the water bathing properly, and then store it correctly after it's preserved, that should minimise the risk of most toxins.

There's still a lot that I don't know, and I'm not advocating one way or the other. I just think there needs to be more open discussion of this topic, rather than one group of people shutting down the other group of people just for thinking differently.

Happy Fourths-giving

Independence Day. Usually full of barbecues, fireworks, and other summery things. When you're a Yank down under, however, it's a little bit chilly for things like that.

And then there's Thanksgiving. Turkey, dressing, pumpkin pie, lots of hot comfort food. But it's regularly on the verge of stinking hot near the end of November, so it's the last thing on our minds.

So a few years ago, I decided to swap them. I'll still buy a turkey in November or December when they're in supermarkets, but said turkey will stay in my freezer till July. When it's winter, and cold, and we naturally want hot comfort food.

So happy Fourths-giving. May we all remember to be thankful for what we have - especially the sacrifice that many made to bring forth a new nation, dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, and are endowed with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Six months worth of life updates

So I decided it was finally time to post again and let people know what's going on in our lives. And I looked at the last post and it was...January. Holy moly. There's SIX MONTHS of updates to write about.

Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

House stuff

Not long after my last post, our old house was demolished. Just an empty block. I drove past there the other day, and it looks like both halves have now been sold (the for sale sign was gone), and there's work happening on one of the new blocks.

The new evaporative air conditioning system we had put in works GREAT. We did have to get the touch screen controller replaced, but that was covered under warranty. We're pretty sure the controller had been dodgy from the start, because it never really worked all that well, and then after the power went out one day, about a third of it was just dead. Fortunately it was at the end of the season when we'd need cooling, so it's not like we were really struggling.

Middle of May, we had our shed delivered in pieces. The company who make them don't install them anymore, so I had to hunt around for someone who was available to put it together for us. That took a while because everyone's busy, and it's winter so it's cold and wet. But finally we got an installation date, and they came and did it, and yay we have a shed!

[caption width="2560"]Shed![/caption]

We had power installed last week, but we're still waiting on the concrete slab to get poured so we can start using it properly. That happens tomorrow.

When the shed is finished, we'll put our chest freezer out there, and get some nice sturdy shelving, and move a bunch of stuff from Chuckie's room onto the shelves. We'll also be able to get a 4x4 set of cube shelves where the chest freezer is now (in the dining room), and use half of it for school stuff, and the other half for board games. (Most of our board games are still in boxes in Chuckie's room). There's a few other boxes of stuff in other rooms that we'll move to the shed as well.

We had a split system air conditioner put in the kitchen/dining area, because it's the biggest room, so really too big for one of those fin heaters to work well (like we've got in every other room in the house). It's pretty awesome.

Life in general

I don't think I mentioned this on the blog at all, but as of the 4th of January, our ridiculous state government decided that all passenger transport workers had to be jabbed to keep their jobs. Darrin was not, and is not, and will not be, so he wasn't able to work, even though the boss didn't care if he was jabbed, and probably most of his passengers wouldn't have cared either. So this persisted until this direction was repealed on April 1. He's been back at work since then.

So my message to you, if you're facing a similar situation: STAND YOUR GROUND. You don't have to succumb if you don't want to. They WILL eventually remove that requirement, because every industry who's mandated it has had it repealed because they don't have enough workers! Don't have savings to get you by? Do whatever you can for income in the meantime - babysit, Uber Eats/DoorDash, deliver pizzas, walk dogs, whatever can get you by. And then, when you get your job back, save up an emergency fund, because something WILL happen again where you need a big chunk of money all of a sudden. Life happens and it's best to be prepared.

And that kind of leads into my next topic, where in the second week of the April school holidays, we all came down with The Virus Which Must Not Be Named. And yeah, yeah, fine, it's the weakest variant that's been out there since the beginning, blah blah blah, but what a wussy virus. We were tired for a couple of days then we were fine.

[caption width="2560"]Two sick boys having a rare afternoon nap[/caption]

And honestly? I'd rather have that again, even every year, than have gastro EVER AGAIN IN MY LIFE.

I had my birthday in January, and Darrin took the kids out for the afternoon so I could be home ALONE. Then the next week Darrin had his 50th birthday, and we stayed home to have chicken & chips. Caleb turned 15 in March. I can't remember what we did for his birthday. Maybe we ordered pizza.

We're still homeschooling, and in fact just had an extension on our government approval, so we're good till the end of June next year.

I had to dig my passport out for something in the middle of May, and I saw the expiration date. YIKES! It was a month away. So in the next 24 hours, I collected all the documentation I needed and sent off a renewal application. I got my new passport a few days after my old one would have expired.

Elijah (3) has moved from our bedroom into a room with his big brother Micah (5). They have the biggest bedroom.

The younger 3 kids and I have started going to a Bible study, which is actually held at our church. We're actually on a break now and starting a new subject in August.


We have chickens! It was a bit sooner than I was planning to get them, but we brought home 5 pullets (female chickens under 1 year old) at the end of February. We were meant to get 6, but the lady I got them from (who had to travel up from Mt. Gambier, several hours' drive away) said her partner forgot to load one up. So they brought the last one up about 6 weeks later.

And started laying. The Barnevelder. The smallest one. Which was a surprise, but a welcome one.

[caption width="1920"]The first egg we got from our flock, which I put in my pocket and forgot about until I squished it against something.[/caption]

And then...our black Orpington started to look bigger than the rest. And she was definitely in charge. And her tail feathers looked like...not a pullet.

And then he started crowing. At 5:30 in the morning. In the suburbs.

So I put a call out on one of the local poultry groups on Facebook, and a lady from out in the country came to pick him up. I saw her again last week and she says he's doing well. Yay.

So we had 5 chickens again for a few weeks. And then yesterday, I got a message from the lady I got them from saying they were coming up TODAY for a poultry sale, and she could bring up my replacement black Orpington. So I asked her for a couple more along with her, and now we have 8 chickens.

In addition to the Barnevelder, two of my Orpingtons are laying periodically. We're generally getting 2 eggs a day at the moment, sometimes 3.


I've got veggie beds! And 7 fruit trees! And blueberry bushes! And a little greenhouse! And...BLACKCAP SEEDS! I'm really excited about that last one. I grew up picking them and eating them when I was a kid, and I've never seen seeds for them here. Then one night, I was Googling stuff on my phone in bed, and I found them. So I ordered some, and got them last week. Just need to work out where I can plant them.

So at the moment, I've got one bed strawberries, one bed peas, one bed broccoli & cauliflower, and the fourth bed is carrots, onions, garlic, lettuce, and parsley.

I've harvested 3 heads of broccoli and 1 head of cauliflower. The lettuce is big enough that I can grab a few leaves when I need them and leave the rest. Same with the parsley. I'm not sure how the carrots will do. I've never really had success with them before.

That's about all I can think of for now.

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